As Ralph Kramden advised Ed Norton, the first step to teeing off in golf is to “address the ball.” That same idea can be used when you’re preparing to cast your fly. Of course, this doesn’t mean stepping up to the water’s edge and saying, “Hello, river!” However, there is a certain level of reading waters that can make all the difference for a successful day of fly fishing. Award winning fly fishing instructor Gary Borger knows all about reading the waters. Does he suggest you need to think like a fish? Absolutely! That’s half the fun of being an angler!
The life rules for fish break down to the same basic survivor instincts all creatures have: find food, find shelter from predators and reproduce. If you are reading the waters properly you’ll be tapping into all of those fish survivor instincts. For instance, will fish find better food sources in shallow or deep water? The answer is “shallow water” which means you should be casting in those small pools before you cross through to the deep end of a lake or river. This follows along with the idea that fish are typically spooked by just about anything that invades their territory. The moment you step into the water, you have the potential for scaring off your catch so watch where you are treading.
Reading waters also means developing an instinct for finding fishing lies. These are the areas where fish will end up congregating. They are either looking for food, looking for shelter or looking for that sweet spot that offers both. That would be the prime lie and that’s where you want to cast first and cast often. Where are the good prime lies? Knee deep water that is at the edge of a drop off surrounded by natural cover like large rocks or tree roots. With enough practice reading waters should be as easy as reading a book!
Listen to the full 90 minute interview on Reading Water.